Blame it or praise it, there is no denying the wild horse in us.
- Virginia Woolf
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As a kid I was a major horse lover. I couldn't wait for Saturday mornings when my parents would drop me off at the stables and I would spend the whole day there riding, feeding the horses, and mucking stalls. I spent my entire Summer, week after week at horse camp.
When I was about eight years old I remember my parents walking in the door with a smile on their faces. They sat me down on the couch and delivered the best news ever. They had gotten me my very own horse.
I screamed and jumped on the sofa in enthusiasm.
But, there was one catch...this horse was only two years old. It had never had a saddle nonetheless an eight year old on it's back.
Despite, all my enthusiasm I remember feeling a bit scared and thinking, this is going to be a lot of work, and it was.
That summer a rugged and mouthy teenager named Jen worked with me on training PJ. Despite her gangly limbs Jen was strong and stern. PJ would buck and attempt to take off, but Jen had the strength to rein him in. Myself on the hand was not so lucky.
PJ would take off on the trails with me. I remember being frozen in terror as I crouched down low dodging tree branches and would often times wind up with dirty knees and a few scratches when I took the unpleasant escape route of tumbling to the ground.
At that age, I was much better at bringing PJ carrots and molasses, grooming him, and adoring him than training him, but one day I had to step up and take charge.
I was leading PJ in from the pasture when I felt a pain on my shoulder. "Ow PJ! Why did you bite me?"
We continued to walk a few more steps, "OUCH!" He nipped me again.
Third times a charm. I swung around so fast his eyes grew wide. In that moment it was like I grew 10 feet taller. "NO, YOU DO NOT BITE ME!"
I stood my ground and PJ took a few steps back. It was not out of anger or control that I had to scold PJ, it was out of love so we could live in harmony together.
In that moment I came into my power and PJ respected it. Sure enough, he never bit me again.
TRAINING THE MIND IS A LOT LIKE TAMING A WILD HORSE
I see the mind being a lot like a wild horse and I often think back to those days of horse training.
You aim to guide the mind in the direction you want to go, but sometimes it takes off with you and leads you into the past or future. You get swept away with imagination or stuck in a well drowning in emotions. Before long you're a few miles or a few hundred miles away from what you set out to do.
Meditation is the means to train the mind.
In meditation you train the mind to remain present. It tries to wander, it may try to bite you, or take off with you, but you keep reining it in and guiding it back to the present moment.
It takes practice.
In time you may find that your attention span has grown, you can stay on track for hours at a time. Sure, things may pop up like thoughts of what you're going to make for dinner or why your neighbor said what they did, but you don't react to these thoughts. They are in the background.
If it is really important you can jot it down to get back to later, but doesn't take precedent over your current task or take away your sense of peace.
Here are some things to help your practice:
1. Exercise and Mobilize: The body will cry out in sensation if it lacks alignment, strength, and flexibility. Whether you are sitting on a meditation cushion or at your desk you must train your body to sit in a way that is comfortable with joints stacked so your muscles don't have to strain.
TRY OUT THESE 3 STEPS TO FEEL GOOD IN BODY AND DO ANYTHING
2. Understand the Nature of the Mind: The mind is like water in the ocean. A thought is a ripple. You cannot control the ocean; thoughts keep coming, sometimes in gigantic waves that stir the emotional body. The aim of meditation is not to stop the thoughts, but to learn to surf or swim.
The way you surf or swim is by having a technique. You must give the mind a task. Think of the mind as an excited little helper. It always wants to create and give you information. It's like a child coming home from school who wants to tell you everything that happened and show you their artwork. You wouldn't dismiss this child or tell it to stop doing that. Instead you might help direct them by asking questions about one topic, but the nature of the child is to eventually get bored of talking to you and then they want to go play outside.
A technique is very similar- you stay with the technique until the mind settles down, then it's like the internal waters have settled and you can simply feel the wind of your breath as if it is a gentle wind over the ocean itself.
HERE IS A BREATH FOCUSED MEDITATION TO TRY
3. Make Focus Fun: Here is a poem about focusing the mind for your enjoyment.
FOCUS THE MIND (A POEM)
Try out the practices above and let me know how it goes.
If you're interested in building healthy habits, learning a sustainable movement practice to build a strong foundation for all the activities you love and start a meditation/mindfulness practice for self-knowledge please contact me for coaching.